By Ty Burr
June 25, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Few Good Men Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson (1992, Columbia TriStar, R, $99.95) the king of marvin gardens Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern (1972, Columbia TriStar, R, $79.95) Nicholson may have bagged a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for A Few Good Men, but his reptilian Col. Nathan Jessep in Rob Reiner’s hollow, posturing courtroom drama really isn’t much of a stretch. For an idea of what Nicholson can do when he’s not coasting on charisma, try The King of Marvin Gardens, a long-lost classic from 1972 that’s on video for the first time. Directed by Five Easy Pieces’ Bob Rafelson, The King casts the star against type as a depressive late-night radio jock who shuns human contact until his brother (Dern) sucks him into a doomed hustle in off-season Atlantic City. The movie shows its age-it’s from that era when existential glumness was actually the rage in Hollywood-but Nicholson’s performance is astoundingly subtle, and Ellen Burstyn makes Dern’s girlfriend a tragically faded rose. A Few Good Men-in which a Navy attorney (Cruise) investigates a murder on Jessep’s base-is slicker, faster, and louder; it’s also instantly forgettable commercial pap. The King has none of that flash, but its unpredictable small- timers will stick with you for years. A Few Good Men: C- The King of Marvin Gardens: A- -TB